Social TV – A Win – Win For Twitter & TV

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Social TV is a term whose meaning might not be crystal clear in many peoples' head but it is something which almost every one of our SMART generation is knowingly or unknowingly experiencing. With the rise of Smartphones, Tablets and even Smart TVs, the TV viewing experience is no longer confined to simply browsing channels endlessly or watching your favourite TV shows. Just think back at the last time you simply sat back and enjoyed a movie on your TV without constantly fiddling with your Smartphone or Tablet or browsing through your social profiles. Hard to recollect, isn’t it? Social TV’s primary purpose is to capture the users’ attention on this second screen so as to better understand their behavior and hence devise strategies on the basis of this intelligence.

Of all the social platforms, Twitter has seemingly raced ahead in their integration with Television. This is due to Twitter’s dynamic and quick nature which makes it a perfect match to monitor real time conversations. Twitter also joined hands with Nielsen to quantify this phenomenon and the results are undeniably good as the graph below will demonstrate.

From their study, Nielsen was able accurately determine that an increase in the volume of tweets drove up live TV ratings in 29% of the shows. The effect was reflected on the other side as well which showed a rise in live TV ratings drove up the number of tweets about the programming among 48% of the episodes making it a win – win situation for both the parties. A Genre wise study also gave an even more insightful statistic that a spike in Tweets increased the ratings of 44% of the episodes of competitive reality shows, 37% of the comedy shows, 28% in sports and 18% in Drama.

The numbers prove irrefutably that an integrated Twitter solution with your TV show will, in all probability, have a positive effect in the ratings of your show. A thought might enter one’s mind that the spike in the Tweets might be during the commercial breaks of the shows as opposed to the program time. Well, another study, conducted by Social guide found out that 70% of TV tweets were sent out during the program time! It is just another indication of how far the 'Second Screen' has ingrained itself in people’s psyche.

To understand the sheer scale of the conversations that happen, we can look at AMC’s Breaking Bad. During the weekend of September 29 2013, it was the most talked about show on Twitter, generating 1.2 million Tweets by 601,400 authors. Those tweets, however, delivered 129.6 million impressions. The total views could be even higher than the number of impressions, which control for duplication.

A simple check on Topsy (a free analytics tool) is enough to prove how the conversations around your show spike during an airing. I checked the statistics for the usage of the Hashtag #himym (How I Met Your Mother, a popular TV show in its last season) and the results are very clear.

The show aired episodes on 13th January, 20th January, 27th January and 3rd February, all of the days in which we can see a spike in the Tweets graph.

The possibilities of such rich, accurate and real time data are endless. Long gone are the days when the broadcaster had a spy at the water-cooler to gauge public response to their shows. Media companies and advertisers can tap into this unadulterated and massive pool of conversations to gauge public sentiment with never before seen accuracy. The brand itself will be also able to communicate and interact with the fans in a very meaningful way. From an advertisers’ perspective, a good piece of news is that in the long run, Twitter plans to introduce short video ads which will generate revenue for the owner of the content, the distributor and Twitter as well. To better understand this avenue, you can look at this Tweet >

So if you are looking to promote your show, what should you do?

To start off, Live Tweeting during the airing is one of the easiest, cheapest and probably one of the most effective things that can be done. Majority of TV shows in the US have already caught on the wave with popular shows like South Park, Family Guy, How I Met Your Mother and many more Live Tweeting during the airing of their episodes. South Park does this particularly effectively by doing a behind the scene Live Tweet session as well during the reruns of older episodes which helps to spike up interest.

As far as India is concerned, the integration and measurement is nowhere near to that of the US, but that shouldn’t hinder your efforts .Closer to home, Koffee With Karan very effectively builds up a head of steam before the actual airing of the episode by using Hashtags integrated with their celebrity guests like #KoffeewithSalman, #KoffeeWithAkshay etc. The Star World Twitter handle also Live Tweets the interesting bits during the show.

Although the phenomenon is still in its nascent stages, the possibilities and future look very bright. India is still miles behind the likes of USA when it comes to accurate measurement and intelligence. However, with the boom of social media in India and with the development of even more accurate tracking and measurement, Social TV is definitely a thing to watch out for!

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